Israel - Scandal forces PM to revise his ice cream budget

According to traditional dream interpretations, dreaming about eating pistachios means you will earn “blessed money” in the near future. Perhaps Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was dreaming when he asked for NIS 10,000 budget for buying pistachio and French vanilla ice cream from the high-end Jerusalem gelateria “Metudela” located near the Prime Minister’s residence.

The entire country was up in maraschino cherries when word of his large personal expenditure at an ice cream store was published on the Israeli business news website Calcalist on Thursday. The newspaper revealed that Netanyahu asked – and received – for NIS 10,000 per year to order Metudela ice cream as it was “his personal taste” in ice cream.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday said the budget was a “framework” for the upcoming year and did not represent money already allocated. After an uproar in the Israeli press over the weekend, Netanyahu cancelled the request, calling it “extraneous,” the PMO said. 

Despite losing the contract with Netanyahu, Metudela has enjoyed a surge of popularity since the news broke. In their flagship Rehavia store, they’ve rechristened the pistachio ice cream “Bibi pistachio.” Serena Kanfi, who makes all of the ice cream for their Rehavia and Beit Hakerem stores, says she has tripled production for pistachio ice cream since Thursday. On Friday, customers streamed to the store from as far away as Tel Aviv and Rehovot.

She said that her husband, co-owner Rafael Kanfi, is also a barber and cuts Sara Netanyahu’s hair. When the couple decided to open an ice cream store five years ago, Kanfi told the Netanyahus about his new venture and the family began to frequent the store. Sara Netanyahu’s favorite is French vanilla, while Bibi Netanyahu is partial to pistachio, she said. But the family also enjoys the sorbets, including strawberry and mint lemonade.

About the scandal, Kanfi, who immigrated from Uruguay four years ago, rolls her eyes. “They exaggerated. It’s not that much ice cream per month,” she said. “They have a lot of guests and invite a lot of people.” A kilo of ice cream at Metudela costs NIS 72, meaning for NIS 10,000 per year the first family are their guests eating about 11.5 kg per month.

“It’s really a shame,” Kanfi added. “He’s also a human being, he should be able to eat ice cream wherever he wants.”


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